After the years spent with Mary Ellen Mark, Mexico only existed in black and white in my world. It was inhabited by little girls with big dresses, circus acrobats, and lots of dogs. When I was invited in Oaxaca for an artist residency in 2018, I felt I was going back to a familiar place.
About 400 kilometers south of Mexico City, Oaxaca claims its indigenous culture. The past is everywhere, and the circles of time seem to invite the visitor to forget corruption, violence, migration, -but the dramatic Mexican news is never very far away. Social inequalities regularly push people on the street.
But these days it all felt quiet. There was the intense light, the lush vegetation, music and seductive colors everywhere. André Breton wrote that “the power of conciliating life and death” was “the main attraction that lures us to Mexico.” Country of surrealism, imaginary and mystery, Mexico accepts its contradictions. Between memory and oblivion, people go about their everyday life, beyond illusions of themselves and elsewhere.
I often ran away from the tourist crowded streets of the center and escaped to the Sierra, to the mountains. The hours spent in buses and collectivos invited to contemplation. Light was changing. My stomach hurt. There was a timeless feeling to the way mothers walked and carried children. I woke up at the sound of teenagers playing traditional songs on their violin. Endless dreams, without melancholy.